The day many students enter high school is the day that one element of secondary schooling becomes apparent to them: independence. From driving to school to choosing their own classes, high school pushed many students into a new, unexplored realm of freedom and self-responsibility. It became apparent that grades were no longer something that teachers frivolously gave out but rather true reflections of a student’s work, ability and effort. However, with this new system of accountability, students were also able to take certain calculated risks. Second semester seniors, who had either already been accepted into college or had already applied, no longer needed to maintain high grades, and students who earned high percentages in certain classes were no longer required to attain high scores on finals since it would not drop their grade below what they wanted it to be. This newly gained independence allowed many students to not only secure control over a large portion of their school life but also weigh benefits and risks to certain decisions, causing them to apply life skills.
However, these so-called “calculated risks” are no longer something students can take lightly, as it not only impacts them individually, but their teachers as well. After Carmel Clay Schools adopts the new RISE evaluation system that will determine pay for teachers, students will have a direct contribution towards the pay and job security of their teachers. Under RISE, teachers receive a summative rating. This rating combines their score on a Teacher Effectiveness Rubric, which will be determined by an administrator, with how well students are learning, which is judged by school-wide earning measures and a student objective assessment. What CHS students need to be aware of the most is the student objective assessment, with which their scores will hold a weight of 20 percent in the overall evaluation of each teacher.
This new merit-based pay system should cause students to reevaluate their academic decisions since the consequences of these choices will impact others as well as themselves. Amid the constant pressure of college and the future, it is easy to understand why students decide not to study for certain finals or why seniors are ready to take a break after three and a half years of rigorous course work. However, following such a path is no longer an option when student performance directly reflects teacher effectiveness. As relaxing as it would be to not have to put in as much effort, students need to understand the reach of this assumed risk and not carelessly jeopardize a teacher’s career or pay solely because of their laziness.
Furthermore, although students have teachers who they aren’t compatible with due to differing personalities, many students also have teachers who have influenced their lives and provided them with an unforgettable educational experience. Despite negative experiences with some teachers, students should view their new role as a way of showing appreciation towards teachers who have shaped their lives. Although it involves more effort and stringency on the student’s part, the rewards that can be gained through this new system are worth a bit more work.